Hassen Muhammed Kawo “Certificates (ijazat) of the Ulema as Devices for the Study of Book Transmission, Reading and Writing Culture in Ethiopia”

Certificates (ijazat) of the Ulema as Devices for the Study of Book Transmission, Reading and Writing Culture in Ethiopia

In this paper, I will describe and analyse a number of Ijazat texts that I encounter in different private collections in Ethiopia. My objective is to show the importance of ijazat and isnads in the study of transmission of books and its writing and reading culture. Ijaza help us to learn how certain books authorized, diffused and studied. Secondly, “can provide valuable information about the transmission of a given text, as well as the places and patterns of teaching in a given region and time (Deroche et al. 2006: 383). Thirdly it gives a clue in the interconnection of local and external scholars and educational centres. Fourthly, it elucidates the local school curriculum and certification system. Fifthly it shows culture of reading and writing in the region as ijāzat often having names of books and their reading dates and places. The written Ijazat will contribute to learn about human agency and motives on its transmission, consumption, reading habits over time. It answers who was reading? what? and when?

Hassen Muhammed Kawo obtained his first degree (B.Ed) in Arabic Language from the University College of Education of Zanzibar, Tanzania, in 2003; thereafter, in 2008, he earned his MA in Arabic Philology from the Institute of Language Studies, Department of Linguistics and Philology, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Cape Town, funded by Tombouctou Manuscript Project and supervised by Shamil Jeppie, Associate Professor, University of Cape Town, Department of Historical Studies. Hassen works at Addis Ababa University as a lecturer in Arabic language and literature. His article entitled “Islamic Manuscript Collections in Ethiopia” was published in Islamic Africa Journal, volume 6, Issue 1-2, 192-200. Hassen has participated in different national and international conferences related to Arabic and Ajami manuscripts of Ethiopia.


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